How to Help Your Shaking, Scared Dog During Fireworks


Bonfire Night is supposed to be a fun and exciting time, but for our furry friends, it can be terrifying! If your dog gets scared and starts shaking during fireworks, it's important to know how to support them and make them feel safe. 

Garden Vets at Keele have created this handy guide to explore why dogs are scared of fireworks and provide you with practical tips to help calm your dog during this stressful time.

Let’s start with why dogs are scared of fireworks...

Dogs have sensitive hearing, so the loud whistling and banging sounds from fireworks can be extremely distressing for them. The bright lights and sudden flashes can also be disorienting and scary. 

Dogs thrive on routine, peace and predictability, and the unpredictable nature of fireworks can make them feel anxious. So, how do you identify if your dog is distressed by fireworks?

Noise distress is commonly shown in the following ways:

  • Pacing
  • Vocalisation
  • Shaking
  • Drooling
  • Destructiveness
  • Hiding away
  • Toileting inside
  • Self-harm (licking or chewing themselves)
  • Aggression

How to calm dogs during fireworks

  1. Take Daytime Walks
    Take your dog for a nice walk during the day to help them release any pent-up energy and anxieties. A leisurely walk where they can sniff around and explore will help them de-stress. Just be sure to avoid nighttime walks, when fireworks are more likely. It's important to be back inside before it gets dark.

  2. Create a Safe Den
    Set up a cosy and safe space for your dog where they can retreat during fireworks. This can be their crate or bed, but you can make it even cosier by adding extra blankets - both for comfort and to muffle the noise. 

    Consider using products like Adaptil or Pet Remedy, which emit calming scents that can help soothe your dog's anxiety. Introduce this safe space well before the fireworks season starts so that your dog feels comfortable and familiar with it.

  3. Provide Soothing Background Noise
    Try to maintain a calm environment in your home during fireworks season. Having some background noise, like a radio or television playing at a moderate volume, can help drown out the sounds of fireworks and provide a sense of familiarity for your dog. 

    Some radio stations such as Classic FM provide special shows featuring relaxing classical music to help keep you and your furry friends calm and reassured around Bonfire Night.

  4. Engage in Enrichment Activities
    Keep your dog mentally stimulated and distracted from the fireworks by providing them with interactive toys, such as snuffle mats, food puzzles, or safe chew toys. These activities can redirect their focus and help them to relax.

    Introduce these activities in the evening before the fireworks start, to shift their attention away from the outside noises.

  5. Consult Your Vet
    If your dog's anxiety during fireworks is severe, don't hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian for guidance. They can provide you with specific behavioural advice tailored to your dog's needs and may even recommend medications to help alleviate their anxiety. 

    Remember, your vet is there to support you and your furry friend.

  6. Update Your Dog's Microchip Information
    Fireworks can startle dogs, and in some cases, they may try to escape out of fear. Make sure your dog's microchip information is up to date so that they can be easily reunited with you if they do happen to run away during the fireworks.

Seeing our dogs scared and shaking during fireworks can be heart-rending, but with the right strategies and preparation, we can help them feel safer and more at ease. 

Remember, each dog is unique, so it may take some trial and error to find the best approach for your pet. With patience and love, we can help our dogs face fireworks with less fear and more comfort.

And there’s no reason to miss out on all the fun! If you wish to celebrate Bonfire Night or New Year’s Eve at home, you can even buy pet-friendly, low-noise fireworks. Fun for all the family, while giving your fur babies’ frazzled nerves a much-needed break! 

If you’re skipping the fireworks entirely this year, why not practice your dog massaging techniques